| 10.4°C Dublin

Pickets' behaviour at new school site appalling, says firm

LAWYERS for a building company claim the conduct of protesters at the site a new school in west Dublin has been "appalling", the High Court heard.

JJ Rhattigan & Co wants the court to make orders restraining any of their sites from being picketed.

Yesterday, Tom Mallon BL, for the company, said that since the picket was mounted at a building site at Kishoge, Lucan, by members of the trade union Unite, vehicles have been blocked while trying to enter or leave. Some of the behaviour was appalling, he said.

Mr Mallon said damage was caused to a lorry, a senior employee was assaulted and intimidated, while the driver of a bus bringing workers to the site was racially abused.

Earlier this week, he said two protesters (inset) climbed to the top of a large crane at the Lucan site where they remain. The site is now closed. Protests have also taken place at other sites owned by JJ Rhattigan and related companies.

They include the Radisson Blu Hotel in Golden Lane, Dublin, where a large inflatable rat was flown and loud music and sirens played by protesters. Guests were disturbed and intimidated, it is claimed.

Counsel said it is their case that no genuine trade dispute exists. The company is not the employer of the men, who the court heard had asked to be made direct employees.


Unite says they have a bona fide dispute with JJ Rhattigan.

It arises out of their concerns at the increasing use by constructions firms of sub-contractors to replace direct labour. The union says this practice has left workers without pay, insurance cover and statutory health and safety protections.

As well as the site in Lucan, the firm is seeking orders in respect of others at Griffeen Valley, also Lucan; St Patrick's College, Drumcondra; the Radisson Blu Hotel; and any other property or premises belonging to JJ Rhattigan.

Oisin Quinn SC, for Unite, and the individual defendants, said any order prohibiting picketing would "be going too far". He said the union was prepared to give an undertaking not to intimidate, interfere or block the entrances where the pickets had been placed.

The hearing continues before Mr Justice Paul Gilligan who, after viewing video clips of the protests yesterday, expressed his concern about Unite's ability to control its members.